This past weekend, Charm City Fringe assembled a brilliant collection of artists for Nights on the Fringe, a two-night event at the Autograph Playhouse, raising the bar for Baltimore’s newest theatre and performance festival and giving a promising glimpse of what’s to come.
Friday night featured three, wickedly funny improv sets from B.I.G. (Baltimore Improv Group), a magic show conducted by a satanic puppeteer (a.k.a. veteran performer David London), and several amusing (if rather slow paced) stand up acts from MC’s Dan Friedman and Alex Bravslasky of Chucklestorm.
‘Nights on the Fringe’ is a welcome addition to the growing Baltimore arts scene…
Clearly, however, the organizers saved the best for last: …And On Forever Like This…, the third of three original (and impressive) pieces presented by Flying V Theatre, may well be one of the best short plays of the year. Being at once morbidly uncomfortable and screamingly hilarious, this absurd comedy is almost impossible to describe. The plot centers around Skip Sandwich (Noah Langer), an “amateur pornographer” and eternal panelist on the “Hal Bervis Show”, who is repeatedly called as an expert on subjects with which he clearly has no expertise. This personal hell is completed by two well-informed panelists (Megan Graves and Lee Liebeskind) and their cheerful automaton of a host (Zachary Fernebok). Their comic precision had this reviewer in tears of laughter; if you don’t know Flying V, I suspect you will soon.
David London made a welcome return to host Saturday’s show, which opened with a promising—albeit unpolished—movement etude by Never Bird, exploring percussive movement, animalistic rituals, and mask work.
Single Carrot Theatre’s Poe Project, an original ensemble piece “concocted” by company member Genevieve DeMahy, followed them. The loss of the Carrots’ usual performance space has obviously not slowed the company down one bit; the four actors (DeMahy, Paul Diem, Lauren Saunders, and Michael Zemeral) dive headfirst into Poe’s grotesque visions and comic turns, whisking the audience through a mad world of food, fancy, and despair—delightfully bashing down theatrical conventions along the way. Combining a Baltimore connection with supreme theatrical elegance, Poe seems perfectly tailored for this event.
The beautiful ladies of Sticky Buns brought the show home with their narrative burlesque show, hosted by the delightfully irreverent Paco Fish—the natural closer for a fringe event—who succinctly described the company’s mission as “doing some weird a** s***—where we get naked.” A noble endeavor, to be sure.
Both nights featured a groovy, funk-hop house band, The New Retro, who got the crowd going with a rousing cover of “Fly Like an Eagle,” among other original numbers.
Overall, Nights on the Fringe is a welcome addition to the growing Baltimore arts scene, and adventurous audience members should keep their eyes peeled for more Fringe events in the future.
For more information on the Charm City Fringe click here.